by Mary Salmonsen
The Weinstein Company is a production and distribution company focused on movie and television production. The Weinstein Company describes itself as producing “mainstream, genre, and specialty films”, and has a sub-imprint, Dimension Films, for self-defined “genre” movies. (2) The company is also partnered with Weinstein Books, a book publisher, Project Runway, a series produced by Weinstein, Chopard, a jeweler, L’Oreal, and Lexus Short Films (see Upcoming), a project between Lexus and The Weinstein Company. (3)
The Weinstein Company is located at 345 Hudson St., New York, NY, 10014. Its contact phone number is (646) 862-3400. (4)
The company’s founders, brothers Bob and Harvey Weinstein, first founded Miramax, a film production company, in 1979. (2) During this period, some of their greatest successes were Pulp Fiction, Shakespeare in Love, Bridget Jones’s Diary, and Chicago. (6) The company was independent until 1993, when it was bought by Disney. Over the course of their professional tenure, the brothers have received 303 Oscar nominations and 75 Academy Awards for their films. (2)
The Weinstein Company’s President of Television is the former Miramax President of Production, Meryl Poster. Current investors in The Weinstein Company include Goldman Sachs, TF1 – a French television company – and WPP Group, an advertising firm. (4)
The Weinstein Company itself was founded in October of 2005, when Bob and Harvey Weinstein left Miramax after a falling-out with Disney. (4) The company absorbed Dimension Films, which Bob had founded in 1993. (2) Their first film release was Derailed in November of 2005,which grossed $57 million (7), and their first animated release was Hoodwinked, released in December of 2005, which grossed $51 million on a budget of $8 million. (8)
In February 2011, documentary filmmaker Michael Moore sued the Weinstein Company, alleging that the company had re-routed $2.7 million of the profits from his documentary Farenheit 9/11 that had been meant for him, among other accusations of wasteful spending. The case was settled in February 2012, and terms were not disclosed. (11) The Weinstein Company has also been sued over The Reader (see September 2012) and Escape From Planet Earth (see Upcoming).
On August 10th, Vivek Shah, a largely unknown actor, was arrested for blackmailing Harvey Weinstein, among four others, and threatening to kill members of his family unless $4 million was wired to him. He is now being held without bail and if convicted could face 20 years in prison. (12)
This aside, the largest event for The Weinstein Company this month was the release of Lawless on August 29th. One week before its release, the Company attempted to drum up publicity for the film by tweeting about a redband trailer, viewable above. (13) The film, directed by John Hillcoat and starring Shia LeBoeuf, Tom Hardy, and Gary Oldman, was, according to a Hollywood Reporter article, “greeted politely [at Cannes] but didn’t capture any prizes.” (14) Its budget was approximately $26 million, and as of November 2012 it grossed $37 million domestically – a modest success. (15)
On September 16, The Master, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, had a limited art-house run, which brought in record-breaking numbers – $729,745 for the weekend, with a per-theater gross of $145,949. At Cannes the film was received as “ambitious and exciting” and some talk was made of the film’s inspiration in the form of L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology. (16)The film was released nationwide on September 23, with an opening weekend gross of $4.3 million. (17)
In the background of this hype, the Weinstein Company battled – and lost – another lawsuit, this one from Bernard Schlink, author of The Reader, the book on which the 2008 Weinstein film was based. In the suit, which was filed in January, he claimed that the Weinstein brothers owed him over $1 million in movie profits based on the original film rights contract he had signed with Miramax in 1998. While The Weinstein Company claimed that this deal was never made, Los Angeles Superior court ruled in Schlink’s favor on September 21st. (18)
On October 1, 2012, the Weinstein Company released an article about “The New Film By Quentin Tarantino”, which until then had only been previewed and promoted at Cannes. (16) Django Unchained, the “violent story of a slave (Jamie Foxx) on a mission to free his wife (Kerry Washington) from the plantation of the man who owns her (Leonardo diCaprio)”, was heavily inspired by Italian spaghetti westerns. (19) The film will be released on Christmas Day.
Throughout the month, The Weinstein Company continued to promote The Master. New York Times editorial writer A.O. Scott called it “the great polarizing puzzle-film of 2012, in no small part because it unfolds with what seems to be a total disregard for the audience’s expectations.” (20) The film did not quite live up to its art house promise in terms of ticket sales, however – it only grossed $15 million of its $35 million budget. (17) Members of the Church of Scientology also reacted negatively to the film, and made multiple harassing calls to the company, despite claims by lead actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman that “it’s not the L. Ron Hubbard story.” (21)
The Company continued to release information about Django Unchained, and on November 13 they revealed on the company Twitter (22) that an official site had been made for the movie.
The largest release for Weinstein this month was Silver Linings Playbook, starring Jennifer Lawrence of The Hunger Games fame and Bradley Cooper. The film won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival and the award for Best Feature at the San Pedro International Film Festival. (24) Playbook had a limited 16-screen opening of $443,000 on November 18th, and was widely released on November 23rd. It has grossed $11 million of its $21 million budget thus far. (25)
Riding on the cottails of Playbook is Killing Them Softly, which stars Brad Pitt. The film was widely released in theaters on November 30th, and has grossed $7 million. (26) Released with far less fanfare on November 2nd was This Must Be The Place, starring Sean Penn. The film was only on 15 screens nationwide, and has thus far grossed only $128,000. (27)
The next project in store for The Weinstein Company is its partnership with the Lexus company to make Lexus Short Films (see About). On the front page of the project site, the project is explained: “To highlight the new look and feel of the brand, Lexus approached The Weinstein Company to produce a series of short films that will offer similar levels of inspiration to viewers.” (28) Five directors will come together to make these films, which will be released in early 2013.
Another large forthcoming event is the Escape From Planet Earth, due out in February of 2013 in the midst of a lawsuit surrounding its production. In March of 2011, Brian Inerfeld and Tony Leech, filmmakers of Hoodwinked and Escape, sued The Weinstein Company for over $54 million over claims that the brothers, Harvey in particular, had botched Escape by canceling and reinstating the project multiple times, ordering 17 script rewrites, and eventually firing Inerfeld and Leech from the project, among other accusations. (29) Desperate to avoid bad publicity at the time when The King’s Speech, a large Weinstein success at this time, was due to receive an Academy Award for Best Picture, the Weinstein brothers attempted to pay Inerfeld and Leech $500,000 to keep quiet until after the Oscars were over. The suit is still in settlement, and the current version of Escape was directed by Cal Brunker and written by Brunker and Bob Barlen. (30)
- The Weinstein Company, “Publicity Materials.” http://www.twcpublicity.com
- The Weinstein Company, “About Us.” http://weinsteinco.com/about-us/
- The Weinstein Company. http://weinsteinco.com
- Hoovers, “The Weinstein Company LLC Company Information.” http://www.hoovers.com/company-information/cs/company-profile.The_Weinstein_Company_LLC.ec1a5102f95ba0bd.html
- Michael Buckner/Getty Images
- Miramax, “About Us.” http://www.miramax.com/about
- IMDB, “Derailed.” http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0398017/
- IMDB, “Hoodwinked.” http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0443536/
- Kevin Winter/Getty Images
- IMDB, “Lawless”, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1212450/
- IMDB, “The Master.” http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1560747/?ref_=fn_al_tt_2
- The Weinstein Company, “Films.” http://weinsteinco.com/films/